CPR on a Loved One: Should/Would You Watch?
There has been much debate over the recent decades since cardio-pulmonary resusciation (CPR) has
become the established medical response to when a heart stops pumping about whether it
was appropriate for both a family member or the medical staff to have a family member present
and observe that procedure. The debate has mostly been amongst the medical professionals themselves
who are involved in the CPR procedure. However, whatever studies have been performed to try to clarify an
answer to the question overall tend to favor and not discourage family attendance. A current statistical study of the emotional outcomes of family members in France who either witnessed or did not witness CPR being performed on their loved one was published March 14 2013 (volume 368, number 11, page 1008) in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was looking for the evidence of and magnitude of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in those family who witnessed CPR and those who did not, along with medical staff issues was consistent with what has been considered previously that "family presence during CPR was associated with positive results on psychological variables and did not interfere with medical efforts, increase stress in the healthcare team, or result in medicolegal conflicts." In fact, those who watched CPR even in the resulting death of their loved one were psychologically better off than those who were in the vicinity but did not watch.
But, on developing this thread, my intention was not necessarily to have my visitors review the statistical evidence presented in this or previous studies but really to discuss the personal thoughts or feelings about participating as an observer when a family member is undergoing CPR. Perhaps, some visitors may have actually experienced such an activity.
CPR is, as a medical response to cardiac arrest, a rather hurried and intensely active process, with clinical confirmation f the arrest and maintaining monitoring for a heartbeat, attention to get the patient into the proper position for effective chest compression, beginning vigorous chest compression after establishing that an initial open airway is available until an endotracheal tube is inserted for mechanical ventilation. Then may come an electric shock applied to the chest to start a heart rhythm or improve a rhythm which causes the patient's body to violently jerk. Meanwhile, there must be the need for coordination of the activities by the staff involved and then final decision making of when to end an unsuccessful attempt at resuscitation. So where is the family visitor in all of this? Where should the family visitor stand and should there be a staff member dedicated to attend directly to the needs or questions of the visitor? Should the family visitor take any role at all in any decision making with regard to stopping or continuing the resuscitation attempt? Are these witnessed last moments of the loved one's life something to be thought of and sought as of value to the family? If so, of what value? Should you or would you watch? These are just some of the questions I would like to ask my blog visitors. Maybe you have some additional issues to discuss. If you have witnessed CPR at home by paramedics or in a hospital environment, can you tell us about your experience? ..Maurice.
Graphic: From Google Images